County to Shift to New Sweetened Beverage Standards

New standards will be implemented in all county vending machines, events, programs and departments.


County Executive Ken Ulman issued an executive order on Tuesday that will require all county vending machines, events, programs and departments to migrate to lower sugar and lower calorie options.

“I was amazed to learn that researchers link 20 percent of the nation’s weight problems to consuming sugary drinks,” said Ulman. “County Government can lead by example to support people in making better choices for themselves and for the children who follow our habits.”

The executive order was issued the same day Ulman participated in an event where 9.6 tons of "sugar"—actually white sand—was dumped at Burleigh Manor Middle School to show students how much sugar they would consume if each had one 12-ounce soda per day in a year.

After the event, Lisa Regnante, a Burleigh Manor Middle School PTA member, and mom to two sons who write a food blog, said, “It’s a never-ending battle to stay on top of what is in these drinks. When we have information about sugars, high fructose corn syrup, dyes … we can make our own decisions.”

The standards are based on guidelines from the Institute of Medicine and the American Academy of Pediatrics. The guidelines require sweetened beverages to have less than 5 calories per serving, fruit beverages to contain 100 percent juice, milk options to be unflavored and contain less than 22 grams of sugar per eight ounce serving. In addition, diet drinks with artificial sweeteners will be limited to a quarter of the total beverage offerings.

"I hope it leads to other food standards and initiatives to encourage better health," said Ulman in a statement.

The county will transition to the new standards as contracts expire or are renegotiated with vendors.

The move does not apply to county schools. But Superintendent Renee Foose said at the event Tuesday the Board of Education is looking into revising the schools' wellness policy and may consider Ulman's order in that process, according to the Baltimore Sun

Ulman's executive order comes about three months after the New York City Board of Health approved a ban on the sale of sodas and other sugary drinks over 16 ounces. New York's ban was championed by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, according to the New York Times.

"This is the single biggest step any city, I think, has ever taken to curb obesity," said Bloomberg after the ban was approved, according to the Times. "It's certainly not the last step that lots of cities are going to take, and we believe it will help save lives."

Ulman's order has already come under scrutiny in the state.

"Howard County Exec Ken Ulman has decided that sugary drinks are BAD and can't be sold on county property," tweeted Clarence Mitchell IV of WBAL Radio Wednesday morning. "Nanny Bloomberg SOUTH!"

"As Adults/ Parents it is and should only be our choices to make for both ourselves and or Family," commented Robert Federline on a Patch article, "No one else!"

What do you think, is the ban good for the county or unnecessary? Tell us in the comments.

Related Articles

Poll: Are Sugary Drinks a Problem in Howard County?

Soda Ban In Howard County? Public Health Leader Says No

Speak Out: Is a Soda Ban for Our Own Good?

bill bissenas December 13, 2012 at 02:00 AM
I'm with you on those other matters as well.
bill bissenas December 13, 2012 at 02:03 AM
Ulman lives in a fools paradise. His policies aren't well thought out, from Healthy Howard to the Kendall Hardware property grab, to the ban on smoking in parks to the meters in Ellicott City. It's one nanny state misstep after another.
Marc Adams December 13, 2012 at 02:24 AM
It still is your choice Amy. Its no different from a store no longer selling a certain product. You will just have to find it else where besides county property.
Marc Adams December 13, 2012 at 02:28 AM
Well HR. If you live in the county then why do you think you shouldn't have to pay for the parks and libraries?
Robert Judge December 13, 2012 at 03:17 AM
I am much more upset because he is building a middle school just 3/10 of a mile from a freight rail line. That danger does not seem to bother him.
k December 13, 2012 at 04:59 AM
Why doesn't Ulman focus on the constantly increasing crime in HoCo instead of diet and nutrition?? The all-to-frequent armed robberies at the mall for example are much more concerning to me than my child having a soda at the park.
bill bissenas December 13, 2012 at 12:58 PM
Yes, even the unicorns will benefit. Unfortunately, Martha's leftist attitude is the prevailing one in HoCo. Leftists/Progressives believe in the wisdom and righteousness of the state, to care for those too stupid to make their own decisions wisely. This is the utopian designer society to which they aspire.
bill bissenas December 13, 2012 at 12:59 PM
Why should he focus on a problem that would put him in a bad light?
bill bissenas December 13, 2012 at 01:00 PM
I hope Ken's unicorns will not get hurt.
MG42 December 13, 2012 at 01:51 PM
Libraries in particular are a terrible waste of money. I have an iPad and get all my books in e-format, so I don't set foot in libraries. Libraries offer a service that is rival and exculdable. There is no economic reason they should be subsidized. Most people realize that the services offered by a library are worthless, which is why they'd be completely unwilling to pay a monthly membership fee to use the library. There's this perception that libraries help the poor educate themselves. That's totally false. Libraries are a total waste.
CN December 13, 2012 at 02:25 PM
Kids aren't required to buy lunch at school. They can bring their own.
CN December 13, 2012 at 02:27 PM
That is true. Unfortunately, the average parent is failing miserably.
bill bissenas December 13, 2012 at 02:39 PM
@CN - and so that is why the government needs to take over and do the parenting? Yes, of course, this is the nature of the left, to cure stupid people who can't make their own choices of their stupidity. Afterall, it's all about the children, puppies, butterflies and unicorns. CN's post perfectly encapsulates the threat that the left/Dems/Progs/Socialists pose to a free society.
Mary Z December 13, 2012 at 02:48 PM
Unfortunately with the new health care being thrown at us without choice, it is the job of the government to keep those costs down. And straight up, too much sugar makes you unhealthy - and soda has too much sugar.
bill bissenas December 13, 2012 at 03:04 PM
"it is the job of the government to keep costs down." This how it works, the government gets involved with taxpayer money, then uses these monetary obligations to get further involved, until ultimately, the government crowds out the private sector and we have a government run society. This is the nature of the left.
bill bissenas December 13, 2012 at 03:19 PM
Of course, there are all sorts of ways to rationalize statism.
Sanchez December 13, 2012 at 03:55 PM
Anyone over 50 used to get exercise as a child while watching television just by having to get up and adjust the rabbit ears on top of the TV and by changing channels and the volume.
Sanchez December 13, 2012 at 04:28 PM
"They can bring their own." It will not be long that too will be banned so as not to upset those whose parents do not send a soda to school. the slope is slippery and these things go in degrees.
Sanchez December 13, 2012 at 04:30 PM
Is not "choice" now removed? You now have no "choice" to select a 12 oz soda.
bill bissenas December 13, 2012 at 04:39 PM
Progressivism is defined as incremental control over the lives of citizens by the state.
Michael December 13, 2012 at 05:34 PM
H.R. Pufnstuf....the best you can do is offer up a strawman argument comparing libraries to a sugary drink ban? Whether or not you like libraries, they are a public service authorized by an elected county council and supported by our taxes. Ken Ulman's banning sugar sweetened drinks on county property was an authoritarian decision and a prime example of autocratic or totalitarian political rule used by the likes of Stalin, Hitler, Mao, and others.
MG42 December 13, 2012 at 05:47 PM
Michael, if you actually read my comment, I was noting the disconnect between the outrage at the soda ban (which seems like it's not that big of a deal) to the fact that there's no outrage about major government intrusions in our lives (requiring sprinklers in residential homes, not allowing teens to tan, funding seemingly limitless libraries when bookstores are going out of business, etc.). President Obama murdering people with drones is authorized by elected people and supported by tax dollars. That doesn't make it right. The fact that you referred to my comparison as a "straw man" is proof positive that you did not even comprehend my comment. A+.
MG42 December 13, 2012 at 05:49 PM
Just to educate you a bit, Michael, a "straw man" is when you misrepresent someone else's argument for the purposes of making it easier to attack. At least learn the meanings of words you use.
Eric S. December 13, 2012 at 07:17 PM
If sugary drinks used real cane sugar, we probably wouldn't have anything like this. Try drinking a giant kidneybuster of Mexican Coke and report what happens. Likely, you can't, or you'll be full, as your body processes it. Now, go back to the highly processed high fructose crap that is in every vending machine since the mid-80s. Right, people (especially kids) drink it like it's water. It doesn't fill you up, since it's processed differently, but ultimately still makes you fat and diabetic. Now, I blame The Government for this also. In fact, unlike county level government, which the average mortal has a chance of swaying in their lifetime, this is the Federal Government. Cane sugar is expensive in the US due to insane tariffs on importing it, thanks to Florida[0]. So, while the big companies could have gone with a cheaper natural alternative (i.e. beet sugar), the government provided an alternative -- High Fructose Corn Syrup. Yep, decades of subsidies no longer go to that guy from a Steinbeck novel you read in highschool -- they go to Monsanto, ADM, etc., who lobby to make you have even more corn in your life. This won't go away soon either[1]. And since HFCS doesn't fill you up, you can keep drinking modern soda all day, and really just get a buzz and have to pee. So, while I don't necessarily agree with what HoCo, MoCo, etc. are doing, I don't think it's a cut and dried issue of "government control over people's lives".
Gary December 13, 2012 at 11:47 PM
Ulman doesn't focus on crime because he does not care. We need to let Ulman know what we think. He's busy wasting time over a football bet. What an immature waste of money.
Shawn December 14, 2012 at 11:36 AM
When I heard a radio interview with Ken Ulman concerning the soda ban on county property I was shocked with his explanation of why he invoked executive privilege in lieu of bringing it to a vote. When asked why Mr. Ulman invoked an executive order instead of bringing the matter to a vote, Mr. Ulman replied "Because I have the authority." Rest assured this act of authoritarianism is only the beginning. Government never relinquishes power, it only takes more.
stan December 14, 2012 at 01:59 PM
Well no more parks or fairs in Howard.
bill bissenas December 16, 2012 at 02:29 PM
Yes, and when he banned smoking in HoCo public parks he cited no studies, but instead rendered moral judgement, it was a, "dirty, filthy" habit. And when I asked him why he was implementing Healthy Howard, he said it would lower my health insurance premium (a delusional assumption given my insurance carrier and risk pool). You see, Ulman doesn't care about the facts, nor does he care about liberty. He simply cares about the amoral agenda of the socialist movement.
Moi December 31, 2012 at 05:32 PM
People in HoCo clearly enjoy the libraries- they circulated over 7 million items last year alone. They waited in line for hours for a FREE author event (Jodi Picoult), tens of thousands signed up for the summer reading program, thousands attended educational programs, 750+ 5th graders participated in Battle of the Books, and many many residents joined/renewed their Friends of HCLS memberships. I say it often, but this time you might really want to consider a move to a less progressive county. Just sayin'.
MG42 December 31, 2012 at 05:45 PM
Moi, follow through with your stats so we have the complete picture. You said that the libary circulated 7 million items last year. How many unique users checked those items out? How many of those items were books? I have long maintained that the library is utitilized a few very heavy users. Even if all 300,000 people in county checked something out (which they didn't but I'm being charitable) that's an average of 23 items a year or about two a month for each person. There's simply no way that the entire county is reading a book every two weeks. I think I may have to move. HC is being hijacked by morons.


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